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San Francisco 49ers camp setup: Hype surrounds Jimmy Garoppolo at QB

By
Dave Del Grande, The Sports Xchange
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates with center Daniel Kilgore after scoring a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter on December 24, 2017 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates with center Daniel Kilgore after scoring a touchdown against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first quarter on December 24, 2017 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders are planning a trip to Las Vegas.

Presumably, just like seemingly everybody else, they are going there to place a bet on the San Francisco 49ers.

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The 49ers, who began the 2017 season 0-9 and an even-money favorite to be the first team in NFL history to relegate itself to Vince McMahon's next endeavor, suddenly are one of the hottest teams in the league.

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was so good last December ... well, let's just say nobody is comparing him to Steve Young anymore.

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He drove the 49ers 86 yards to a winning field goal in his first start. Joe Montana totaled 96 yards in his first season.

He directed five straight wins, making him 7-0 as a starter in his career. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had a loss before he had a winning streak, losing his second start.

And here's the best comparison of all: Under Garoppolo, the 49ers averaged 42.1 yards per drive last season. Before Garoppolo, the 49ers were best known for averaging 43.8 yards per punt.

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How do you improve upon perfection? The 49ers have spent the past seven months contemplating the seemingly impossible.

They have upgraded their offensive line with a free-agent signing (center Weston Richburg) and two first-round picks -- one returning from an injury (Joshua Garnett), one arriving fresh off the Notre Dame campus (Mike McGlinchey).

They improved their skill-position speed, drafting wideout/punt returner Dante Pettis and signing flashy running back Jerick McKinnon to replace Carlos Hyde.

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They've coupled linebacker Reuben Foster with cornerback Richard Sherman on a defense that could elevate its level of play this season.

And, significantly, they have retained a safety net in case, like most things in Vegas, things don't go according to plan. They have $17 million in salary-cap reserves -- third-most in the NFL -- to plug holes and/or get a head start on 2019 free agency.

The run to the riches begins whenever Garoppolo chooses to show up for training camp this month. The rest of the guys are expected July 25.

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